Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writers


I was reading some Lorrie Moore stories today and it occurred to me that I would have to name her as one of my biggest influences in learning (if I did) how to write a short story. There are many others, of course, but she's a definite mentor, or inspiration might be a better term. I see things in her writing, I tried to carry into mine.

Who are your greatest short story writing influences? Who did you read and admire before picking up a pen? Who made you think you could do it? Who were you in sync with in terms of style, character and plot?

17 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Almost anybody who wrote for the SF digests in the 1950s: Silverberg, Ellison, Kornbluth, Vance, Anderson, and on and on and on.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder if I had read those journals, if my writing (or at least subject matter) would be very different. I don't even remember being aware of those journals in Philly, although I did read AHMM and EQMM back then. And a lot of movie magazines and TRUE CONFESSIONS.

Dave Zeltserman said...

I wish I could say Bruce Jay Friedman and Flannery O'Connor were influences, since they're my favorite short story writers--both immensely talented. Harlan Ellison is also great. But Dashiell Hammett who wrote easily my favorite crime fiction short stories has probably influenced my own short stories than anyone else.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And I wish I could say, that since most of my stories are crime-related, that I have an influence in that field, but I don't think I really do.
Found my copy of the Continental Op,

Chris said...

I don't know that I've read enough short stories yet to really be influenced. Though, as I think about it more, I'm learning quite a bit about what I really don't want to write, which is just as important.

Ron Scheer said...

In 2 words, Raymond Carver.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Absolutely.

Graham Powell said...

Raymond Chandler was my initial inspiration, and I wrote some bad imitation Chandler. Later on it was guys like Rex Stout and Leslie Charteris, people who could tell a story with a little panache.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

My earliest influences among short story writers were R.K. Narayan, Anton Chekhov, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, A.J. Cronin, and C.S. Lewis.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I adored Maugham Does anyone read him today?

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - I have to admit I don't really do short stories. But to answer the question of who influenced me and made me want to "be like that," it was Agatha Christie's work.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bradbury was probably my favorite short story writer growing up, but I knew I couldn't write as well. In the 80s I read a lot of short horror stories in the anthologies that were popular at the time. Lansdale, McCollum, and those guys made me want to do it myself and think maybe I could.

Thomas Pluck said...

The influences I can consciously recall are Andrew Vachss, Lawrence Block, Harlan Ellison, Amy Hempel and Raymond Carver.
Vachss taught me to lay a foundation of the emotion I'm feeling. Ellison to blast through any ceiling for that emotion. Carver and Hempel to stand back, see the scene I'm writing and leave out the stuff that looks fuzzy. Those aren't details, they're the canvas, and you don't need to paint in those parts.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love Amy Hempl. Thanks for remembering her. Amy Bloom too. SO many great short story writers in the eighties. When places like THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY still took stories. And when THE NEW YORKER allowed people to submit.

Anita Page said...

The stories I go back to again and again are The Dubliners. They're so contemporary in tone and style, but of course they were revolutionary for their time.

Todd Mason said...

Avram Davidson (in his several modes), Jorge Luis Borges (likewise), Joanna Russ, Algis Budrys, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Saki, Donald Barthelme, Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, James Thurber (and at least to some extent Robert Benchley, with Twain standing behind them both), Theodore Sturgeon, Fredric Brown, Harlan Ellison (a interestingly recurring citation), Dashiell Hammett and slightly surprisingly to the degree that they have, James Blish (because he was my predecessor in the fight against the impulse toward the twelve-clause, eighty-four-word sentence) and Isaac Asimov (particularly in attempting to make my nonfiction as clear and as engaging to readers both conversant with and new to the subject at hand).

It's easy to try to put almost all of these folks in a single box or drawer, but also misleading to do so.

Todd Mason said...

Vonnegut, too, of course.